Did you know that breastfeeding burns about 500 calories per day? This is why many nursing mamas find themselves with an endless appetite (not to mention exhaustion) as they attempt to juggle the demands of motherhood and life. But curbing that hunger with nutritious, lactation-promoting snacks doesn’t have to be hard!
Besides staying hydrated and nursing often, it is important to fuel your body regularly while breastfeeding with nutrient-dense foods rich in protein, calcium, and iron to maintain a long-term supply of breast milk. And it’s best to minimize alcohol, caffeine, and highly processed foods as much as possible.
If you are doing your best in these areas and are still worried about your milk supply, you can consider including lactogenic foods (also known as galactagogues) into your diet. These foods contain phytoestrogens and other chemical properties that stimulate lactation. Women have used these healthy foods for centuries across many cultures, and although there is no hard evidence that they work, many anecdotal reports cite these foods as beneficial in producing more breast milk.
And good news for snacking...many of these nourishing and lactogenic foods make super easy snacks without having to prepare a full meal! Check out these 10 quick and healthy snack ideas that can also boost milk production.
Hummus or Tahini Dip with Veggies or Whole Grain Crackers
Hummus is made with iron-rich chickpeas and calcium-rich tahini (sesame paste), making it a great snack full of nutrients. Plus, both are lactogenic foods to boot! Pick up your favorite brand at the store to keep life simple and use fresh veggies (like cucumbers and peppers) or whole grain crackers for a no fuss, nutrient-dense snack.
Looking to expand your palate beyond hummus? Tahini makes a delicious dip even without the chickpeas! A bit less ubiquitous than hummus, I recently spotted a ready-made version at Trader Joes, but you can also make it fairly easily at home in about 10 minutes, and it will keep for at least 5 days in the fridge—check out my recipe here.
Dark leafy greens like kale are also galactagogues...and while these tend to qualify more as meal foods, kale chips are an exception. Kale just happens to be the most nutrient-dense food on the planet, loaded with vitamin K, vitamin C, antioxidants, and minerals!
While kale chips are not hard to make yourself, sleep deprived new moms may opt for store-bought versions, which are delicious too! Plus, you can find ones that include lactogenic nuts like cashews that add a savory, plant-based cheesy flavor.
Nut Butter with Veggie or Fresh Fruit Dippers
Nuts are a perfect superfood for breastfeeding moms because they are a good non-dairy source of calcium, and nursing mamas should get about 1,000 mg per day. In addition, nuts are full of nutrients like protein, fiber, minerals, healthy fat, and antioxidants.
Pair apple slices, celery sticks, carrots (another lactogenic food), or banana with the nut butter of your choice. So many simple combinations with varying sweetness for a quick, wholesome snack that will curb your hunger and support lactation.
Chickpeas (a.k.a. garbanzo beans) are a delightfully crunchy quick snack that can be either savory or sweet. In addition to being lactogenic, chickpeas are a great way to get plant-based protein, fiber, healthy carbs, and minerals like iron.
Roasted chickpeas are fairly easy to make at home, but if you’re short on time and energy, there are some tasty store-bought options on the market to stock in your pantry, with delicious flavors ranging from simple sea salt to ranch to chipotle and more.
Nuts or Trail Mix
In addition to being a nutrient-dense food as mentioned above, nuts are also lactogenic when consumed in raw form. So whether you eat them raw or roasted, nuts are a great way to get the extra calories you need.
Need a little variety? Try trail mix to combine savory with a little sweetness. Some dried fruits are considered galactagogues, making them especially helpful in lactation, including apricots, dates, and figs. Just grab a handful for the perfect snack serving.
The purest form of soy, edamame (soy beans) are loaded with lean protein, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids, making them an uber nourishing breastfeeding snack. Edamame can be found in the prepared food section of many grocery stores in the shell, as well as in the freezer aisle both in the shell and deshelled. These beans are so delicious and surprisingly easy to eat with one hand;) Just sprinkle with a touch of sea salt and snack away.
Granola bars are an easy way to combine many wholesome ingredients into a neat and easy packaged serving. Oats, the base of most granola bars, are a breastfeeding superfood: a whole grain rich in minerals, fiber, and healthy carbs, oats are also lactogenic. Combined with other nutrient-dense ingredients like seeds, nuts, dried fruit, dark chocolate, and other whole grains, granola bars make a great snack to grab from the pantry.
Nut/Nut Butter-stuffed Dates
If you have never tried this combination, you are missing out! Dates are truly nature’s candy, sweet, moist, high in calcium, and perfect for stuffing, especially with lactogenic nuts! Try stuffing dates with walnuts, almond butter, peanut butter, pecans, pistachios, peanuts, or macadamia nuts. They also make a tasty dessert;)
Pumpkin seeds may not be an obvious choice when you think of tasty, satisfying quick snacks... perhaps because our attempts at roasting them ourselves each year around Halloween turn out a little meh. But pumpkin seeds can be SO DELICIOUS when done right, like the simple dry-roasted, lightly salted ones from Trader Joe’s made without any oil! You can also find flavored pumpkin seeds if that’s more your thing, like pumpkin-spiced or spicy. Pumpkin seeds are full of nutrients, boasting 9 grams of protein, iron, minerals, healthy fat, and antioxidants!
Full of all the lactation goodness of brewer’s yeast, whole oats, flaxseeds, and almond butter (plus chocolate chips!), these No Bake Lactation Bites from Bakermama are the perfect SCRUMPTIOUS refuelling snack whether morning, noon, or midnight dessert! While these lactation cookies do require 10 minutes of prep time, the recipe makes two dozen and lasts up to two weeks in the fridge.
We hope this list provides some helpful tips for staying satiated with healthy food to give you the right extra calories you need during your breastfeeding journey. If you find yourself having trouble maintaining your milk supply, it is best to consult your doctor or lactation consultant. We wish you the best on your breastfeeding journey with your new baby...happy snacking new moms!
Disclaimer: This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.